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Long-billed Curlew

long-billed curlew   
Photo by George Wall


Description: Adults have a very long bill curved downwards, a long neck and a small head. The neck and underparts are a light cinnamon, while the crown is streaked with brown. The female has a much longer bill than the male. 

Habitat: They prefer prairies and pastures with short grass during breeding season. After breeding, they seek seashores, lakes, rivers, mudflats and salt marshes. 

Diet: They like to eat crabs and various other small invertebrates as their long bill probes into the mud. They will also feed on grasshoppers, beetles and other insects. 

Range: The species is native to central and western North America. In the winter, the species migrates southwards, as well as towards the coastline. 

Nesting: A small hollow is lined with various weeds and grasses to serve as the nest. Four eggs are always laid as this is a characteristic of shorebirds. The eggs vary in hue from white to olive. The Long-billed Curlew is a precocial bird, and the chicks leave the nest soon after hatching. Both parents look after the young. 

Predators: Their predators hawks, badgers, coyotes, weasels, and snakes. 

Fascinating Facts: A group of curlews has many names, including a "curfew", "game", "head", "salon", and "skein" of curlews. 

Adults actively defend their eggs and young by pretending to be injured and leading the predator away. 

It has been known as "sicklebird" and "candlestick bird." Candlestick Point in San Francisco was named after this indigenous bird and subsequently Candlestick Park. 

The long-billed curlew is the largest shorebird in North America.

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